Some children's homes facing closure after not meeting licensing requirementsTuesday, May 11, 2021
BY KIMONE FRANCIS
THE Child Protection and Family Services Agency could serve closure notices on several children's homes across the island because of the failure on the part of their management to meet licensing requirements outlined by The Child Care and Protection Act.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Robert Morgan made the disclosure during a recent Jamaica Observer Press Club at the newspaper's headquarters in Kingston.
Morgan, who was a guest at the hour-long meeting, said while more than 70 per cent of children's homes have met the licensing requirements following an ultimatum given by him in January, several are facing closure for failure to comply with or meet set standards.
Homes were given three months to complete the licensing process which requires, among other things, that the home receives a certificate of clearance by the police and one from a medical practitioner, a food handler's permit, a certificate evidencing training and other qualifications, a detailed operational plan, and authorisation from the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the local planning authority.
“It is good now that over 70 per cent of the homes have fulfilled the requirements. There are some outstanding matters, though. So, for example, because of COVID certain arms of the State have not been able to complete their obligations to the homes — the health inspections, for example, [and] fire safety.
“So, while the homes in some cases worked hard in fulfilling their obligations for licensing, I could not blame them 100 per cent – because if you make a request to a government agency and they take three or four months to do it, then I couldn't necessarily blame the homes for that,” Morgan commented.
He said, however, that there are cases that give a clear indication that some homes will not be able to fulfil licensing requirements.
“We're already in the process of looking at certain homes that will not be able to continue to function the way they are functioning. We're always willing to work with the homes but where we see there are institutional problems as it relates to child abuse, as it relates to infrastructure, as it relates to whether or not the home is fulfilling the needs of the children, then you may see, over the next couple of months, homes that are not going to stay open.
“We've already closed one home, which I will not name yet, and we're looking at others to see whether or not we can work with them – and if we are not able to work with them then we're going to have to close them,” said Morgan.
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